Raif Badawi was publicly flogged, receiving 50 lashes after Friday prayers on 9 January. Raif was escorted from a bus and placed in the middle of the crowd, guarded by eight or nine officers in front of the al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. He was handcuffed and shackled but his face was not covered – everyone could see his face. Still shackled, Raif stood up in the middle of the crowd. He was dressed in what looked like a pair of trousers and a shirt. He was lashed on his back 50 times in just five minutes. An eyewitness said:'Everyone could see his face... A security officer approached him from behind with a huge cane and started beating him. Raif raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arching his back. He was silent, but you could tell from his face and his body that he was in real pain.
'The officer beat Raif on his back and legs, counting the lashes until they reached 50. When it was over, the crowd shouted, “Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!” – as if Raif had been purified.'
It is feared that Raif Badawi will get 50 more lashes within two weeks. According to the final court decision, he will be receiving 50 lashes per session, with a break of no less than a week between sessions until he has been lashed 1,000 times.
Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience; his only ‘crime’ was to exercise his right to freedom of expression by setting up a website for political and social discussion.